Thursday, August 25, 2016

4 Reasons to Love a Good Retelling

When it comes to movies, I’ll be the first to tell you I’m not a fan of remakes. If a film became a blockbuster hit back in the day, won awards and much critical acclaim, then to me, there’s no reason to remake it. Why should I watch the exact same story retold the exact same way? Because special effects are better now, you say. So? Because there’s more budget for better costumes now. So? To me, those things aren’t what made the story great to begin with, and as anyone who enjoys reading, watching movies or TV knows—STORY IS KING. 

However…what if we changed the story a bit (or a lot, depending on how you like your retellings)? Ahh…now you have me interested. Now I won’t know exactly how a story will unravel, because I’ve never seen this version before. Even Walt Disney loved retellings, which explains why his happy-ending versions of fairy tales are so different from their grim originators.

So, here’s a list of 4 reasons to love a good retelling, one that doesn’t simply regurgitate the original but presents something creative echoing of the classic but highlighting new, engaging plots:

4. FUN WAY TO INTRODUCE A CLASSIC (if you’re not familiar): Let’s be honest, not everyone has read The Count of Montecristo. Or Huckleberry Finn. Or Jane Austen. I know, stop gasping before you choke. But it’s true. As a mom, I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve found myself telling my kids, “Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s not good!” What is this allergy to classic music and books? I guess it’s a teen thing. But no worries, because this is where a good retelling can CHANGE YOUR LIFE. I can’t tell you the number of reviews I’ve read of my newest, WAKE THE HOLLOW, where the reviewer has said, “I never read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow before, but now, I’m so going to!” A good retelling can spark interest in the original tale. When you present the characters and plot in a modern or creative setting, readers who otherwise would never have read the classic tales will now suddenly be dying to read it. Suggestive sorcery from this former teacher? Maybe. J

3. FUN TO SEE OLD TALE IN A NEW LIGHT (if you are familiar): If you’ve read the original tale, then it’s highly entertaining to see how things can change in a retelling. Maybe the villain becomes the hero, and the hero becomes the villain. Maybe the story is now set in modern times or even the future. Maybe it’s not a romantic comedy anymore but a horror novel. The possibilities are endless! It’s like taking your beautiful mother and sitting her down in a chair, changing her hair and makeup, then dressing her up in fun cosplay threads, revamping her into a new beauty. She’s still your mom, still familiar to you, only now…she looks so freaking cool!

2. COMFORT OF THE FAMILIAR: I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for nostalgia. Every fall, I transform my home décor into my “Fall Palace” and make caramel popcorn. During Christmastime, I’ll pretend like it’s cold outside and bake cookies, filling my house with sweet smells that remind me of childhood, even though where I live it’s 100 degrees outside. One Halloween tradition is to sit and watch “The Adventures of Ichabod Crane” (Disney version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow). I also love watching Young Frankenstein and carving pumpkins, same way I have all my life. My book, Summer of Yesterday, was essentially a love letter to my childhood vacation place, Fort Wilderness in Disney World. There’s something comforting about reliving the things you love, but if you add something new into the mix, you’ll get a whole new experience. Such is what happens with a good retelling—it’s enjoying your favorite book all over again, only you get a new story along with it.

1. YOU LEARN SOMETHING NEW EACH TIME: If you watch a movie enough times, you’ll discover little fun tidbits that make good trivia. With a retelling, you might learn something new about Mr. Darcy, or Anna Karenina. You might get the whole point of view of the Big Bad Wolf or Ichabod Crane or Brom Bones. You might learn something about the authors themselves, as in Wake the Hollow. Maybe this is the teacher in me again, but my favorite lessons were always those that took boring or difficult topics and dressed them up in ways that were exciting and entertaining for students, because one thing I’ve learned about teens, kids, and even adults over the years, everyone loves to learn, it’s just HOW the material is presented, and a good retelling won’t just entertain you, it’ll have you dashing for the source material to learn more.

So, there you go! If you like retellings and you love YA books, a few good ones out this month are:

-       Olivia Twisted and Olivia Decoded (Oliver Twist), by Vivi Barnes
-       All the Broken Pieces (Frankenstein), by Cindi Madsen
-       Such Sweet Sorrow (Hamlet and Romeo & Juliet), by Jenny Trout
-       Finding Perfect (Pygmalion), by Kendra C. Highley
-       Red (Little Red Riding Hood), by Alyxandra Harvey
-       How Willa Got Her Groove Back (Pride & Prejudice), by Emily McKay
-       Nexis (A Sci-Fi Cinderella), by A.L. Davroe

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